Sunday, November 15, 2009

Labour Party North West Regional Conference Southport 2009

Unlike last year when I found the money to stay in the Vincent Hotel (and met Marc Almond coming out as I went in), this year I drove up to Southport for the Saturday and Sunday sessions of conference.

We heard from the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Ray Collins with a presentation about the General Election strategy. Harriet Harman spoke about the battle lines for 2010 - all that the Tories would destroy if they win the next election contrasted with Labour's plans for more schools and hospitals. Ed Balls talked about his plans for Children, Schools and Families.

At lunch time on Saturday I chaired a fringe about Climate Change which was transmitted simultaneously on Twitter in a ground-breaking "Tworum" (silly name, interesting concept). It was held by our MEPs and we had some good speakers - as well as Arlene we heard from Richard Scott of Baywind co-operative windfarms (he was really good) and Councillor Richard Cowell, Executive Member for the Environment in Manchester who has recently been promoted from AEM and spoke very well about the ongoing work there in terms of waste management etc.

In the afternoon we had workshops and I chaired a session about Local Government with Minister, Rosie Winterton MP, an old friend from South Yorkshire, now at the
Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and Regional Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber. She was a Minister for Local Government until last month.

We went back into the hall for a thought provoking speech and Q&A from Phil Woolas, our own new Regional Minister. He told the conference that it was the proudest moment of his adult life, when he was appointed our Minister, as he is North West to his core. Certainly the cheers rang out in Regional Office as he has been a close friend to us all since he was first elected to Parliament.

At the close of conference on Saturday I went to the Women's fringe event (there were about 100 other delegates upstairs in the Young Labour fringe, they held their conference simultaneously with ours again this year). It was chaired by Barbara Keeley who I had not met before. I was very impressed with all the information she had dug out about political and active women of the 20th century - and it reminded me that my great grandfather was so keen on suffrage that he named his daughter Christabel in 1912.

On Sunday we had only a short conference session, which I chaired because Dave Quayle was at the Southport Cenotaph.

We took the NEC report from Peter Wheeler and then moved into a period of reflection and commemoration. I talked briefly about the outbreak of WWII - on my father's first birthday, and then about Grandfather's work as an ARP warden in blitz hit Coventry, followed by his service in the navy, culminating in his being awarded the Oak Leaf for bravery on board HMS Scylla, the flagship of the Eastern Task Force at the D-Day Landings. I showed conference his medals too. Then we had a short 1 minute film, with the Last Post and some footage from the war cemeteries, followed by the 2 minute silence.

We moved into workshops where I sat in a session about the importance of door-knocking, and then we had our final session where our Regional Secretary Anna Hutchinson, paid tribute to the retiring MPs and to our retiring Chair - Dave Quayle, who has done a great job for the last 13 years.

Another great conference, well attended, and everyone up for the fight against the Tories next year.

1 comment:

Louise Baldock said...

Just for clarity, Grandad's medal was not for the D-Day landings, it was for the Salerno landings the year before.